Sunday 31 May 2020

#BlogTour Time Out by Emma Murray

It's my turn on the BlogTour Time Out  by Emma Murray.
About the Author
Emma Murray is originally from Co. Dublin and moved to London in her early twenties. After a successful career as a ghostwriter, she felt it was high time she fulfilled her childhood dream to write fiction. Click here to sign up to Emma Murray's newsletter

Follow @murrayemma on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagramon Goodreads, on Bookbubon Amazon, Visit emmamurray.netBuy Time Out

About the book
‘It’s just a phase,’ they said. ‘These are the happiest years of your life,’ they said…
Mother of one and professional writer Saoirse (pronounced Seersha, not Searcy – thanks a bunch Game of Thrones!) is still adjusting to the demands of motherhood, four years after the birth of her daughter, Anna.

Living in the claustrophobic London suburb of Woodvale, and being surrounded by passive-aggressive mum-wars, isn’t helping. Neither is her increasingly pent-up anger at her once-perfect husband. Her only comrade in arms, best friend Bea, is the one thing keeping her sane.

When Saoirse’s agent asks her to pitch for a book, she is horrified to discover the topic is motherhood. How can she possibly write a ‘warts and all’ account of being a mother without giving away what it’s really like?

Laugh-out-loud funny, painfully well-observed, but with an unmistakable warmth and unforgettable characters, this is the perfect antidote to all those parenting bibles that bear absolutely no relation to real life. The novel may or may not have been inspired by real life…

Saoirse is doing her best to keep her family and marriage together, but it's difficult when everyone else knows best, especially the golden mothers from a local group. God forbid she dare break any of the unwritten rules of parenting. Bad mother - poor child.

When her agent asks her to make a pitch to write an honest book about motherhood she isn't sure whether she has the courage to stand by her convictions and tell the world what it is really like, as opposed to the fairytale life certain people seem eager to show to the world. Her best friend Bea is the only one who gets what it is like and she is also the person who allows her the space to take a step away from a life that is about to implode.

I can remember telling my daughter, when she became a mother and joined a local online Mom group, that she should be prepared for the sanctimonious onslaught of comments if she dared to post anything that goes against the invisible guidelines of the self nominated superior mothers.

You know the ones that barely have a kid and a half and think that presenting a false picture of motherhood will somehow convince the world and themselves that their attitude to mothering will make their children happier, healthier and more successful than mothers who are honest about being a parent. They are judgemental and to be completely frank some of them can be dangerous, because they think their advice supersedes that of experts and more importantly your own gut feeling as a mother.

It's snarky, down-to-earth women's fiction that pulls no punches.

I love the fact Murray says it like it is for the majority of parents most of the time. Kids can be tiny psychos who may or may not have regular sleep patterns for the first few years of their lives. Having them changes any other relationship you may have had prior to their appearance. It's important not to let everyone around you guilt trip you into thinking you are an inept mother just because you choose not to grind the wheat you use to make them bread or milk the cow to make them natural yoghurt.

In fact all newbies to the world of babydom should read this just to put things into perspective. It's okay to ask for help, to take a break, to feel inadequate and to think of yourself now and again. Oh and do yourself a favour steer clear of the condescending mothers in social media groups - pretending to be superior is more important to them than giving good common sense advice.

It's a brutally honest read, despite the humour the author weaves into certain moments. There is no such thing as the right way all the time for every baby or child, sometimes winging it and being able to laugh at your own predicaments is the best way forward. It's a heartfelt and entertaining read.

Buy Time Out at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Boldwood Books; pub date 26 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Tempus Project by Antony Johnston

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Tempus Project by Antony Johnston - the second book in the Brigitte Sharp series.
About the Author
Antony Johnston is a New York Times bestselling writer. The Charlize Theron movie Atomic Blonde is based on his graphic novel; his Brigitte Sharp thriller novels are critically acclaimed; and his first videogame, Dead Space, redefined its genre.

Antony’s books, graphic novels, and videogames include The Exphoria Code, The Tempus Project, The Fuse, Daredevil, Shang-Chi, Shadow of Mordor, the Alex Rider graphic novels and the adaptation of Alan Moore‘s ‘lost screenplay’ Fashion Beast. He also hosts the podcast Writing And Breathing.

Follow @antonyjohnston on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, on Instagram, on Facebook, Visit antonyjohnston.comClick here to sign up to receive Antony Johnston's newsletterBuy The Tempus Project

About the book
In The Exphoria Code, MI6 officer and elite hacker Brigitte Sharp foiled a terror attack on London that used stolen military drone software to deliver a ‘dirty bomb’.

Now Bridge is back, battling a series of hacks and ransom-ware attacks, masterminded by a hacker known only as ‘Tempus’, who is targeting politicians and government officials with impunity.

Discovering that this campaign is linked to a cyber-attack on the London G20 summit, she is drawn into the dark-web world of crypto-currencies, Russian hackers and an African rebel militia.

In another compelling cyber-thriller from the creator of Atomic Blonde, Bridge races against time to prevent a disaster that could alter the balance of global power forever.

Brigitte Sharp is a hacker who likes to ignore the chain of command, which usually ends with herself and others being in a lot of danger. Her impulsiveness has consequences, and yet it still doesn't change her approach to her job, which is protecting her country from cyber threats.

Bridge is an interesting person when it comes to her personal life. She tends to see things one-sided and never from an outsiders perspective. She makes decisions whilst angry that result in the kind of mistakes that are unforgivable.

This time she is dealing with a very clever cyber criminal called Tempus who appears to be targeting government officials. Blackmail via ransomware. A popular and profitable cyber crime.

It's a fast-paced cyber crime thriller - techno thriller at it's finest.

This is what the world of crime has evolved into. Something you can't see, smell or hear- insidious in nature with repercussions that cause huge tidal waves of destruction. Technology has allowed us to connect, work and make progress in a way that allows communication and development across borders and continents. The downside is that the technology also makes us vulnerable. Every device connected to the web can become a target and a weapon, which is a pivotal part of this plot.

Johnston gives his readers the reality of the threats without wading too much into paranoia, fear or the common lackadaisical attitudes of the layperson when it comes to cyber threats. Instead it is hardcore cyber language, attacks and crimes, but simultaneously written in a way everyone can understand.

I thought it was fascinating and an eye-opener, especially in regards to how the world of spydom has had to adjust to this new era of crime. Johnston writes a captivating thriller and manages to keep the reader engrossed, despite the subject matter being very technical. Brigitte Sharp is a spy to watch out for.

Buy The Tempus Project at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lightning Books; pub date 25 May 2020 in paperback and digital formats. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Lightning Books. At Waterstones. At Foyles. On Google. On Kobo.

Thursday 28 May 2020

#BlogTour The Second Chance Hotel by Rachel Dove

It's my turn on the BlogTour The Second Chance Hotel by Rachel Dove.

About the Author
Rachel Dove - 'I am a writer and teacher, living in West Yorkshire with my husband, our two sons, and our furry pets.

In July 2015, I won the Prima magazine and Mills & Boon Flirty Fiction Competition, with my entry, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, out now in ebook and paperback. The Flower Shop on Foxley Street followed this in 2017 and both books hit the Amazon top 200. Chic Boutique got to #2 in the rural life humour chart and is regularly in the top 100 of that chart. The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street came out in ebook on 10th August and the paperback 1st November 2018.

I am the winner of the Writers Bureau Writer of the Year Award in 2016 and I have had work published in the UK and overseas in various magazines.

My standalone soldier book, The Long Walk Back, came out in January 2018 and I am currently writing the next book in the Westfield series. My first book with Manatee Books, Nice Guys Finish Lonely, came out in April 2018 in ebook and paperback. I love to write romantic fiction, both rom-com and harder hitting women's fiction.

I am also a post 16 teacher and am undertaking an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University.'

Follow @writerdove on Twitteron Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit racheldoveauthor.wordpress.comBuy The Second Chance Hotel

About the book
Welcome to Shady Pines, where the sun is shining, the sea is sparkling, and there’s a cosy chalet waiting to be your home away from home. But will April find the new start she’s looking for?

April Statham had it all – until her husband left her for a blonde ten years her junior. Now she’s thirty-five, single, and starting again. So she does what anyone in her position would do: she impulsively invests her life savings in the chalet park she used to visit as a child, on the beautiful Cornish Coast.

The Shady Pines Chalet Park is… ramshackle. But it has one big advantage – it is as far as physically possible from April’s ex, his new fiancée, and her old life. With gorgeous handyman Cillian O’Leary, April is looking forward to the challenge.

As visitors arrive, April realises that Shady Pines isn’t just a second chance for her, it gives Cillian another shot at happiness too.  But when he moves into the chalet next door, April’s painful past starts to catch up with her, and she struggles to reconcile her feelings for Cillian.

Is April’s new beginning destined to end in failure – or will she find new friends, a new life and new love at her second chance hotel?

April is the new owner of Shady Pines - perfect holiday retreat. New business, new her, what could possibly go wrong an what are the odds of her old problems catching up with her.

If you haven't been in the position of being a woman who can't conceive and are unable to have the child you want, I think it may be difficult to comprehend just how much it influences their emotional well-being and responses to certain situations. It's easy to put April aside and label her as dramatic, highly-strung and too invested. Unfortunately it also means, especially in this case, that the people around her are unable to feel empathy, thereby making her feel as if she has failed in some way.

Running away and starting a completely new life is a scary thing to do, but it also saves her from the constant criticism she is experiencing. The worn down chalet park she decided to buy was an attempt to grab a piece of nostalgia. Apparently it comes with a grumpy old woman and an odd-jobs man with more baggage than the lost and found department at an airport.

It's a romance, which has amusing moments at times, but is overall a story about realising when one door closes another one will always open somewhere for you.

Dove very much combines the serious with the fun with this read. Her characters are dealing with the kinds of issues that can break hearts, break up relationships and sometimes bring people to the brink. It's that element of realism that gives this story something readers they can relate to, whilst simultaneously giving them some escapism.

Buy The Second Chance Hotel at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 29 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

#BlogTour Tomb of Gods by Brian Moreland

It's my turn on the BlogTour Tomb of Gods by Brian Moreland.
About the Author
Brian Moreland writes a blend of mystery,action adventure, dark suspense,and horror. His books include Shadows in the Mist, Dead of Winter, The Witching House, The Devil’s Woods, The Seekers,and Darkness Rising. An adventure seeker and lover of world travel, Brian is currently living in various places and writing books and short stories.

Follow @BrianMoreland on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreadson Amazon, Visit BrianMoreland.blogspot.comBuy Tomb of Gods

About the book
Deep inside the tomb exists a hidden world of wonder and terror. In 1935, British archaeologists vanished inside an Egyptian cave. A year later, one man returned covered in mysterious scars.

Egyptologist Imogen Riley desperately wants to know what happened to the ill-fated expedition led by her grandfather. On a quest for answers, she joins a team of archaeologists and soldiers in Egypt. Inside a mountain tomb, they’ve found a technologically advanced relic and a maze of tunnels. Dr.
Nathan Trummel believes this tomb leads to the most guarded secrets of the pharaohs. When the explorers venture deep into the caves, they discover a hidden world of wonder and terror.

Egyptologist Imogen Riley is determined to find out what happened to her grandfather. What drove him insane, where did he get those scars and disappear to for over a year? The answers lie deep inside a cave her grandfather found whilst searching for Egyptian tombs.

Dr Nathan Trummel is just as determined to find the same cave, but for much more selfish reasons. Recognition, riches and at the core of it all an insatiable need to uncover the secrets the past left behind. 

It's a combination of horror, history and mythology.

Imogen wants in on the hunt, which isn't what Nathan wants, but she has something he needs to be able to find what they both want. Neither of them have a clue what they are heading towards.

The darkness and horror of being trapped inside a tomb full of booby traps and mysteries pales in comparison to the unknown entity stalking beating hearts. On top of that each one of them is confronted with hidden fears and mistakes best forgotten. Moreland uses inner fears and secrets to compound the element of the unknown. It creates doubt, chaos and uncertainty.

I'd like to have a good motz about the ending, but that would give everything away. Suffice to say I disagree with the overall sentiment in regards to a certain sister and the last chapter. Aside from that it is the kind of read that builds upon the fear of both the known and the unknown.

Buy Tomb of Gods at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher:  FlameTree Press; pub date 21 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Flame Tree Press.

Sunday 24 May 2020

#BlogBlitz A Good Demon is Hard to Find by Kate Moseman

Today it's my turn on the Blog Blitz A Good Demon is Hard to Find by Kate Moseman.

About the Author
Kate Moseman is a writer, photographer, and recipe developer who lives in Florida with her family and enjoys going to theme parks as frequently as possible.

Follow @KateMoseman on Twitteron Instagramon Pintereston Facebook, on Amazonon Goodreads,Visit, Buy A Good Demon is Hard to Find

About the book
Sometimes, a date from hell is just what you need...
When Erin thoughtlessly lays a curse on Mark, her cheating ex-husband, she doesn’t expect a well-dressed Great Earl of Hell to show up in her kitchen to fulfill the curse (and make damn good coffee while he’s at it).

Andromalius specializes in wickedness and revenge. He’s ready, willing, and able to rain down hell on Erin’s ex—but when Mark announces a hasty new marriage, Erin needs more than just revenge. She needs a date to the wedding.

Erin is a woman scorned. A woman filled with pain, hatred and disappointment. Her life has been turned upside down and she has been betrayed. Her ex-husband Mark isn't satisfied with getting what he wanted, he also wants her to fade away so nobody remembers his transgressions.

She accidentally conjures up a demon who is willing to take care of her problem or perhaps just annoy him a little, but the demon isn't exactly what it says on the box.

I'm not sure Andy the demon fits the usual stereotype everyone is used to. He is kind, considerate, likes to take care of people and makes a darn good cup of coffee. Erin finds herself so distracted by the demon that suddenly the distressing events that fill her head are no longer as important as they were before he turned up.

It's an entertaining paranormal romance. Moseman combines the paranormal with the humour of a  romcom.

Although the story never gets too serious there is actually a nice little message hidden inside. There is always a way forward even when things look dire and feel incredibly painful, and giving away energy to things you cannot change is a waste of time.

It's lighthearted escapism and a fun read.

The second book in the series, A Witch's Work Is Never Done is due to be released in October of this year.

Buy A Good Demon is Hard to Find (Supernatural Sweethearts #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

Saturday 23 May 2020

#BlogTour The Goodbye Man by Jeffery Deaver

Today it's a pleasure to take part on the last day of the BlogTour The Goodbye man by Jeffery Deaver.
About the Author
Jeffery Deaver is the No.1 international bestselling author of more than thirty novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction law book. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme,The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He's received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world.

A former journalist, folksinger, and attorney, he was born outside of Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University. You can visit his website at

Follow @jefferydeaver on Twitter, on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy The Goodbye Man

About the book
In pursuit of two young men accused of terrible hate crimes, Colter Shaw stumbles upon a clue to another mystery. In an effort to save the life of a young woman—and possibly others—he travels to the wilderness of Washington State to investigate a mysterious organization. Is it a community that consoles the bereaved? Or a dangerous cult under the sway of a captivating leader?

As he peels back the layers of truth, Shaw finds that some people will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. All the while, Shaw must unravel an equally deadly enigma: locating and deciphering a message hidden by his father years ago, just before his death—a message that will have life-and-death consequences.

This is the second book in the Colter Shaw series and I am sure this character is destined to be a fan favourite. Colter is a man moulded by a father who wanted his children to be prepared for any eventuality, but not the sort of event you would expect someone to encounter. We are talking survivalist with an emphasis on being able to escape any situation and be able fight any opponent. Prepared for killers and catastrophes.

Colter puts those skills to good use when he is drawn into the world of a mysterious commune. He wants to find out how they are connected to the last case he was on. Something left him with a gut feeling that the community in the middle of the woods is something more than a sanctuary.

It's a thriller with a main character who sniffs out crime and injustice like a bloodhound.

We live in a world that panders to cults, because they are either linked to religious zealotry or so financially powerful that they can't be stopped in their tracks.They use their hierarchies, gaslighting and psychological manipulation to either completely brainwash their members or followers, or they bully them into submission. Fear is a strong control technique.

The majority of them have one thing in common - megalomaniacs at the top. Sexual deviancy, abuse and money is a common factor.I include TV evangelists in that category, they are nothing but con artists with swift lips.

What Deaver portrays really well is the way Colton reveals part of his true feelings, whilst trying to stay undercover. The victims are often more vulnerable if they have experienced past trauma.

It's a fascinating read, despite the fact it is more of a thriller. The minutiae of Colton evaluating his surroundings, calculating his chances and the way the author presents a scene and then goes back and gives us the same scene from a different angle, is excellent. Deaver is a true craftsman when it comes to writing.

Buy The Goodbye Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins: pub date 14th May 2020 | HB | £16.99. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Waterstones.

Friday 22 May 2020

#BlogTour When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby

Today it's the last day, but a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour When We Fall By Carolyn Kirby.

Based on the Katyn massacre of 1940, When We Fall is a moving historical novel of three lives forever altered by one fatal choice.

Carolyn Kirby - 'All of the victims of the Katyn massacre were men, except, remarkably, for one woman. And when I discovered that this woman, Janina Lewandowska, was a pilot, I knew that the Polish experience would become the heart of my novel… The story I tell is fiction, but it is one that I could not have begun to imagine without the remarkable life and death of Janina Lewandowska'

April - May 2020 marks 80 years since the Katyn massacre and 10th April 2020 also marks the 10th anniversary of the airline crash that killed top Polish dignitaries on their way to Russia to commemorate the atrocity.
About the Author
Carolyn Kirby is the author of The Conviction of Cora Burns which was longlisted for the Historical Writers’Association Debut Crown Award.

Before being a full-time writer, Carolyn worked in social housing and as a teacher. She has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in Oxfordshire.

Follow @novelcarolyn on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit, Buy When We Fall

About the book
England, 1943. Lost in fog, Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Vee Katchatourian is forced to make an emergency landing where she meets enigmatic RAF airman Stefan Bergel, and then can’t get him out of her mind.

In occupied Poland, Ewa Hartman hosts German officers in her father’s guest house, while secretly gathering intelligence for the Polish resistance. Mourning her lover, Stefan, who was captured by the
Soviets at the start of the war, Ewa is shocked to see him on the street one day.

Haunted by a terrible choice he made in captivity, Stefan asks Vee and Ewa to help him expose one of the darkest secrets of the war. But it is not clear where everyone’s loyalties lie until they are tested.

This is the story of Ewa, Vee and Stefan. Three people doing their part to win and survive the war, and reveal the dark secrets that have been hidden and used to fuel the anger towards the enemy.

Ewa is adjusting to her hometown being occupied by the Germans. She has been waiting for news from her lover, a prisoner of war courtesy of the Soviets. Vee is doing her part as a pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary, and both women know Stefan Bergel. Stefan is a man scarred by his years as a prisoner and determined to make sure the world knows what happened to his comrades and who is responsible.

The propaganda machine of the Soviets was a very effective tool, as is the Russian one now, even in the 1940s. They didn't acknowledge or confirm their responsibility for the Katyn massacre until 1990. Instead they hid their atrocities alongside those of the Nazi regime - in plain sight. The NKVD were responsible for the deaths or rather executions of 22000 Polish military officers, police officers and intelligentisa. They were killed in a series of mass executions.

Polish intelligentsia were people arbitrarily identified as intelligence officers and imprisoned. I say arbitrarily, but they were men who held important positions in their communities. According to historians Stalin wanted to ensure any future Polish military power would struggle, due to a lack of leaders and talent. Sounds so rational and cold.

It's historical war fiction based on the true events of the Katyn massacre.

In a way Kirby shows us how so many lives became connected for the greater good and simultaneously also through unfathomable trauma. Bonds and tethers that remain throughout the years, regardless of which side they were on. This is what makes the ending of the book so perfectly imperfect.

It's another riveting read from Kirby.

Buy When We Fall at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press | pub date 7th May 2020 | Demy Paperback Original with flaps | eBook also available | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby.

#BlogTour The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle

Today it's my turn and the last stop on the BlogTour The Woman in the Painting by Kerry Postle.

About the Author
Kerry loves art, history and literature. In her debut novel, 'The Artist's Muse', she explores the artist Egon Schiele's relationship with his model Wally Neuzil and shows that it isn't only Schiele's paintings of Wally that shimmer and shock.

Kerry's second novel, 'A Forbidden Love', is set during the Spanish Civil War and tells a rousing and ultimately uplifting story: that when war has taken everything away from us we are still left with our humanity.

With the author's third novel, 'The Woman in the Painting', she returns to the world of art. Set in Rome at the start of the 16th century the author shares with us the heartbreaking story behind the artist Raphael's portrait of his lover, Margarita Luti. Known as 'The Baker's Daughter', this portrait hides a secret...

For more about Kerry Postle visit For links to the paintings and literature that inspired her first novel go to

Follow @kerry_postle on Twitteron Goodreads, on AmazonBuy The Woman in the Painting
About the book
A celebrated artist. A baker’s daughter. A love that will change everything. 1508. In Rome, artists are feted as gods, and women must know their place.

Margarita may be the modest daughter of a baker, but when she falls in love with painter Raphael she finds herself playing a dangerous game.

For Raphael is wanted for greater things than a humble marriage, and there are those who will do anything to keep him and Margarita apart – no matter the consequences…

Pietro is an interesting narrator, perhaps because it is hard to feel any empathy towards him - at least for the majority of the story. He is a target because of his sexual preferences, his family pretends he doesn't exist and he is usually one step away from complete destitution.

Now all of those things might make the audience feel sympathy towards him now and again. Poor Pietro with the speech impediment, everyone makes fun of him. Poor Pietro indeed. One wonders if he spent time polishing his thirty pieces of silver.

His love and obsession play a pivotal part in the story of Margarita, the lowborn daughter of a baker who refuses to be bought or sold like chattel. She becomes the object of inspiration for some of the most well-known painters of Italian Renaissance. Men creating works of art which still inspire and captivate the world many centuries after creation.

It's historical fiction inspired by a true story. A tale of art, passion, love, but most of all it is a story of deceit.

I really enjoyed the way Postle never veered from Pietro, his point of view and ultimately his influence over the events. It doesn't merely become a tragic tryst and battle of passionate endeavours or about navigating the egocentric and narcissistic traits of the most powerful. When you break it down it is about the subtle whispers spoken in rage or jealousy, and remaining silent and doing nothing when you should step in to change to the tide of opinion.

It's an exceptional and well crafted story.

Buy The Woman in the Painting at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital; pub date 22 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

It is an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman.
About the Author
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years' travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. The Secrets of Strangers is her sixth novel.

Follow @charitynorman1 on Twitter, on Amazonon GoodreadsBuy The Secrets of Strangers

About the book
A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café - their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage.

But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?

Wrong place, wrong time. I bet that's what the majority of the people who end up in the middle of  hostage a situation think. Luck of the draw. Sam doesn't seem to mind whether he frightens children, pregnant women or about crossing the line between threat and death.

The way Norman has woven the threads of coercive abuse, violence and desperation together to create an emotionally charged read is quite remarkable. There is no black or white, but rather a pyramid of greyish areas.

There is a scene between Mutesi and Neil that I found incredibly poignant. In the cafe we have the new norm and status quo of the nurse or carer and the homeless man. She thinks nothing of reaching out to help him and he is grateful for those stolen moments in his bleak life.

When Mutesi speaks of her turbulent past - a life filled with horrors we will never be able to comprehend or imagine, the status quo shifts. As she speaks and he tries to wave away the images her memories conjure up, in an attempt to protect himself and others and diminish her experiences, he reverts to the white man of privilege. She in turn is expected to acknowledge her status as the black woman expected to bear the systemic oppression of her race, and in this case also her tribe, and be silenced by him. So subtly done - point made.

Then the comparison of abuse and blame when it comes to Sam and his stepfather, and Sam and his girlfriend. The assumption that being a victim automatically means you could not possibly be a perpetrator too.

I think what I will take away from this book is that everyone has a story and none of us know what each individual has dealt with or is dealing with at any given time. It's important to keep that in mind when we interact and communicate - no matter how briefly that may be. It doesn't excuse Sam's actions, but it does put them into perspective.

It's an excellent read - absolutely food for thought.

Buy The Secrets of Strangers at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Allen and Unwin; pub date Paperback Original | 7th May 2020 | £8.99.

Thursday 21 May 2020

#BlogBlitz Winter's Gift by Florence Keeling

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Winter's Gift by Florence Keeling.

About the Author
Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother's name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool's Day.  She is married with two teenage children.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

Follow @KellingFlorence on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, on Amazon, on GoodreadsBuy Winter's Gift

About the book
Bea Winters is in desperate need of a fresh start. Being bullied at work is not her idea of fun and she longs to follow her dream of becoming a published author. When an advert appears in her local paper to work in a publishing house in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale, it sounds too good to be true.

She strikes up an instant friendship with gorgeous aspiring author, Eddie Richards and her dashing millionaire boss Scott Summers. But all isn’t as it seems in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale.

How does the local clairvoyant know her name? Who does the little black dog that keeps appearing belong to and why does she keep bumping into the mysterious Charlie?

As she starts to unravel the truth, it seems that everyone in Bea’s life is keeping secrets.

Bea finds life a little tedious at the moment. At work she is being systematically mobbed and her dreams of being an author are going to remain a dream. Unbeknownst to Bea her luck is about to change for the better if she will let it.

The stars seem to be aligning for her, whether she wants them to or not. She gets an interview at a small publishing house in a rural area and decides to try her luck. Perhaps she can use the experience to gain a foothold in the industry and finally get her work published.

The small village of Bloomsdale comes with a good portion of handsome men, quirky characters and something odd Bea just can't put her finger on. The local alleged clairvoyant knows things she couldn't possibly know and this small dog keeps turning up everywhere Bea is.

It's a feel good story with romance and magical realism.

Although there are moments of drama and discord, in general this is a light-hearted read. Keeling infuses this story with the same kind of magical realism as her Lily Mae Walters stories. She combines the serious with laughter and the tough moments with a lot of hope. At the same time she delivers a story with a bit of mystery and perhaps even a teensy bit of magic.

Buy Winter's Gift at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing; pub date 15 Nov. 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

Click here to read more about Lily Mae Walters ( Florence Keeling)

Tuesday 19 May 2020

#BlogTour Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder

Today it's my turn on the Blogtour Celeste Three is Missing by Chris Calder.
About the Author
After ten happy years of retirement in rural France, Chris Calder is back in England. He came late to writing novels, penning his first whilst incarcerated in a French hospital following cancer surgery. At the time he spoke little French. Unable to communicate effectively with the staff, he spent his time fleshing out his first novel. Five more have followed; light thrillers leavened with humour. Best of all, the cancer is now history.

Chris knows that readers of fiction expect to be diverted and entertained. He loves feedback and believes passionately that taking on board readers’ views improves what what he does. You can email him at Go on, he’d love to hear from you.

Follow @CalderAuthor on Twitteron Facebook, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit chriscalder.comBuy Celeste Three is Missing

About the book
The world’s first earth-orbit passenger plane, the sensational Celeste Three, takes off from its base in Arizona, also the only place where it is designed land. On a routine flight the craft disappears.

On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier. Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan.

Getting the craft down in total secrecy is key. And someone has to pay the huge costs  involved.

This is the story of how one man waits patiently for the right moment in time and space to exact his revenge on a dangerous criminal for murdering his friend and destroying his business. Gregory Topozian will never forget Viktor Karenkov, although the same can't be said for Karenkov.

This is a very slowly slowly catchy monkey kind of story. Gregory waits for the perfect opportunity and starts to plan something so meticulous that even those involved don't guess the whole scam.

This is not only a revenge plot it is also a heist plot. A David Copperfield kind of heist. Now you see the Celeste and now you don't.

Although Calder bases the premise on a man who is willing to wait a long time to get his vengeance, the first few chapters and the jumps in between seem a little contradictory for someone so consumed by making a certain man pay.

It's a thriller with a futuristic vibe. When I say future, we probably aren't too far off an earth-orbit passenger plane - seats only affordable if you are incredibly rich of course. The peasants will still be taking the bus and the train.
The story of Gregory veers offside a little as the sub-plot of the pilot runs alongside and juggles with Gregory for the role of main protagonist. In fact his past and emotional turmoil play a major role.

I liked the heist premise, the ideas are creative but the story in general needed tightening up a bit.

Buy Celeste Three is Missing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Heddon Publishing; pub date 12 Aug. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming by Lenka Janiurek

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming by Lenka Janiurek.
About the Author
Lenka Janiurek was born in York. At the age of 17 she won the prestigious Young Writer’s Competition at the Royal Court Theatre and subsequently had three plays on at the Royal Court Theatre, a platform play at the National Theatre, and one at the Other Place with the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon. She has facilitated workshops in writing, drama, art, and well-being, in schools, colleges, at camps, and in a women's prison. And worked as a baker, fundraiser, caretaker, green builder and researcher. She has four children. She lives close to the sea in Wales.

About the book
Lenka Janiurek’s story really begins with the death of her mother when she was nine. She is the daughter of a Polish immigrant father, and one of eight children. Across the years she is plagued by the rage, addiction and despair of the controlling men she is closest to. This memoir grapples with identity, of trying to find a place in a world and within a family, that don’t feel like your own.

This remarkable story from the 1960s to the present day, describes the loss of her mother to her relationships with 2 stepmothers, early success as a playwright, extensive travel, and encounters with both extreme wealth and poverty. Throughout Lenka explores and celebrates the beauty and tragedy of living life to the full.

Watermarks is a stunning evocation of alienation, searching, and the restorative power of nature.

This is an autobiographical story, a story from womb, to childhood, teenage and adult years. Filled with experiences that change her life and outlook on it.Tribulations and trials, but most importantly it's about the connection she makes with nature -with water to be more specific.

There are studies on the epigenetics of trauma, whether trauma can be passed down like a legacy from generation to generation. This story made me wonder about the silent impact it had on Lenka, and then in turn whether her own personal trauma - the loss of her mother - is also a factor that may impact her descendants.

Although the story is written in first person, which in itself always gives the reader a closer emotional connection and experience with an autobiographical account, the narrator remains at a distance. The overall style and voice often seems cold, displaced and without any emotional connection.

Then again what is the easiest way to cope with the most traumatic things in our lives. The moments that drive us to our lowest points, and yet somehow we have to move beyond those moments.

The most beautiful and intriguing aspect of this read was the emotional and almost spiritual link Lenka makes to the water throughout. From the childhood memories of family holidays on the beach filled with joy, to swimming in storms, the source of the light from the pond, relaxation and strength by swimming during pregnancy and at the end becoming the giver instead of the taker. Becoming the person who strives to protect the one constant in her life that has always given her peace without asking anything in return.

It's an introspective and reflective read.

Buy Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Allison & Busby on 21st May 2020 in hardcover and digital formats (paperback to follow in October 2020). Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Hive At At Waterstones. Buy at Allison and Busby.

#BlogTour The Scribbler by Ian Maitland

It's an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for The Scribbler by Iain Maitland today. Please join me for a fantastic Q&A with Iain!

About the Author
Iain Maitland is the author of thrillers: The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017) as well as two non-fiction books on mental health: Dear Michael, Love Dad (2016) and Out of the Madhouse (2018). An ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity, Iain also speaks on mental health issues in the workplace. A writer since 1987, he is a journalist and has written more than 50 books, mainly on business, which have been published around the world.

Follow @iainmaitland on Twitteron Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit iainmaitland.netBuy The Scribbler

About the book
“He’s back, Carrie. The Scribbler is back.”

DI Gayther and his rookie colleague DC Carrie have been assigned a new caseload. Or rather, an old one… cold murder cases of LGBTQ+ victims. Georgia Carrie wasn’t even born when the notorious serial killer began his reign of terror across the East of England, but Roger Gayther was on the force that failed to catch him and remembers every chilling detail.

Back in the Eighties, Gayther’s team hadn’t been assigned sufficient resources. But now, after all these years, there’s a sudden death featuring The Scribbler’s tell-tale modus operandi. Gayther and Carrie have to find and bring him to justice to stop the killing once and for all.

Q&A with Iain Maitland
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)
I’ve literally just finished Payback by Claire MacLeary, a really gritty thriller with touches of humour. I love this series and can’t wait for the next book. 

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, name it)? Pre-lockdown, my wife Tracey and I went to the cinema once or twice a week. We’ve seen all sorts of films this year. Very diverse! I enjoyed 1917 and Little Women and my favourite Jojo Rabbit – I love pitch black humour and this had it in spadeloads. 

Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper?
Big fan of Steinbeck and my favourite book of his is Of Mice and Men. I love George and Lennie, the smart brother and the simple brother.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
It would be good to salute Captain Tom Moore; famous for just the very best of reasons. 

I’ve changed this question to suit our current situation. You are on lockdown for four months and can only choose three books to read -  which three would you pick and why?
I have books that I go back to time and again; the equivalent of comfort food in a way. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – short, perfect, moving. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – the brilliance of the writing. Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie – read it straight through and then go back and unpick it to see the cleverness of the plotting.   

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Scribbler.

I am loving the new crime solving duo. They are passionate, driven and snarky!
Thank you. I really wanted to create a detective duo who were, in many ways, complete contrasts but who, despite that, really like each other. I wanted to get the sense that, in the midst of horror, they would put themselves on the line for each other.   

One of your previous thrillers, which I have also read and enjoyed, has been optioned for television. How do you feel about seeing your characters come to life on the screen?
Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to TV as a six-part series courtesy of AbbottVision, the makers of Shameless and Cracker. It’s a thrill to see the love they have for the book and how committed they are to making this a massive success.

I would love to know all about your inspiration for The Scribbler?
I’ve always loved crime novels and have always wanted to have my own detective duo series. I was very aware of a series of unsolved crimes from West London in the late 1980s where a serial killer killed gay men and was never captured. The perception from within the LGBTQ+ community was that insufficient resources were directed by the police into solving these crimes. That’s really where we start with The Scribbler.      

DI Gayther and DC Carrie make an interesting team. What makes their relationship tick?
Gayther is old school in his ways, but a kindly and decent man. Carrie is young and up-and-coming and enthusiastic and maybe naive too. They're just really nice people – depending on your age, he’s your favourite uncle and she’s your much-loved niece. I wanted to get warmth and kindness and love into the heart of the book – a sharp contrast to what’s going on around them.

Gayther is really driven by the need to catch The Scribbler, perhaps to the point of obsession? Why is that?
He was on the case back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the police failed to catch The Scribbler. So that drives him on. He also wants to bring the killer to justice to give a sense of closure to the victims’ families. And he has a personal reason too … 
The book focuses on unsolved LGBTQ crimes - cold cases that have been buried over the years. Why was it important to you to write about the discrepancies in crime solving depending on the victims?
I had a friend at school in the early 1970s and he was gay and opened my eyes to the ways in which the lesbian and gay community, later LGBTQ+, were treated both on a day-to-day basis and when crimes were committed in those days. That’s sort of always stayed with me.   

I think the police force these days is more diverse and has changed the way it works and treats people and handles crimes across-the-board. I wanted to use these sorts of contrasts in the book – how the world was back in the 1980s and how it is now in the 2020s; still a way to go but better than it was back then. 

You give your readers a combination of crime read, police procedural and psychological thriller. Is that the way you plot it or are you more of a fly by the seat of your pants inspiration kind of writer?
I kind of knew where I was going from the beginning although I don‘t set my plot in stone. I wanted to start this book – the first in a series – by establishing the Gayther and Carrie relationship. So the first half of the book focuses a lot on that. I then wanted to crank things up in the second half and make it more and more tense – that’s really what my books are about, the building up of tension to breaking point. I pretty much knew the ending when I began writing.

What’s next for Iain Maitland? Are you already working on something new?
I’m close to finishing my next book 3 Bluebell Lane, which features a sad and lonely man, Mr Boyle, living on his own in a little cottage on the edge of woods in Felixstowe in Suffolk. After that, I’d like to write two or three sequels to Mr Todd’s Reckoning and The Scribbler. We’ll see …   

Thank you for answering my questions, even the odd ones!

Maitland creates an interesting contrast with Gayther and Carrie. Gayther is very much old school police - gut instinct takes precedence over laws and rules. Carrie represents the new generation of policing, using technology to enhance the resources at her disposal for instance, although one could argue that being impulsive gets her into more than a little trouble in this story.

What they both share is a passion for the new unit DI Gayther and DC Carrie have been assigned to, the Cold Case Unit, and one case in particular has found its way to the top of the pile. An old LGBTQ case - a serial killer with a taste for older men hiding their true sexual preferences. Gayther was part of the original investigation and now he is convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that The Scribbler is back from the shadows. In fact he is convinced that he never left at all.

It's an intriguing combination of police procedural, psychological thriller and crime read.

Maitland delivers a character driven read and builds the plot by cementing the relationship between the two protagonists. Bit by bit and brick by brick until a solid foundation appears, then a door opens up into the world of the killer. One who hunts his prey without mercy.

It's the contrast between the two worlds that gives the story that multiple sub-genre feel. As a reader you feel as if you have a foot in both worlds. One foot with the grumpy obsessive Gayther and his smirking sidekick, and the other foot is walking just behind the man who loves to torture and kill.

It's a great read. Oh, and kudos for the unexpected ending - my lips are sealed.

Buy The Scribbler at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Contraband; pub date 7 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Saraband.

Monday 18 May 2020

#BlogTour Always Been You by Lasairiona E. McMaster

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Always Been You by Lasairiona E. McMaster.
About the Author
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did - with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself 'home', with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation.

With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Follow Lasairiona @QueenofFireLas on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit lasandcolgotexan.comBuy Always Been You

About the book
Five thousand miles from his ex, AJ is living with Lisa’s decision to call it quits and leave both him, and Alabama behind. Upon hearing that Lisa is moving forward from their engagement with a new (and handsome!) doctor-boyfriend, AJ is confused and broken at the idea of facing life without his soul mate. AJ finds himself at a cross roads, does he give up all hope of ever reconciling with Lisa and take a chance on love again with someone new? Or is his heart destined to be forever entwined with the beautiful Irish woman he met on the internet… who is now with another man?

Well, AJ stills spends half of his time having conversations in his head, and no the advice isn't any better in there. At the end of Worth Fighting For he was left in shock when Lisa calls off their relationship. His betrayal and the fact he got married behind her back has become to much to put up with.

As usual this leaves AJ on the precipice of a massive meltdown and possibly a deep depression. So what now? Accept that Lisa has decided to move on from their tempestuous relationship and get on with his own life or fight for the woman he loves?

This is a romance, and is a part of series that veers into mental health on occasion and has a YA vibe.

There wasn't as much focus on men's mental health issues in this part of the series, although AJ does struggle with the rejection and the ramifications of his own actions. This time it was about AJ persevering, despite his emotional turmoil and the obstacles in his way.

The characters are young, everything they do and say is dramatic and could possibly be life-threatening or life changing. Some of them also appear to be able to flit to and fro from one continent to the other without going bankrupt or getting jet lag.

It's for readers who like their romance filled with complications, confrontations and heart-wrenching emotional choices. McMaster certainly knows how to to deliver that.

Buy Always Been You (AJ Williams #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Drama Llama Publishing 9 May 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my reviews of Worth Fighting For, Bloom Where You're Planted and Game Changer by Lasairiona E. McMaster.